Wednesday 13 December 2017

Martin Breheny: Time for Kildare to stop being paranoid

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

ISN'T it high time for Kildare to drop the persecution complex, stop complaining and get on with enjoying an exciting period in their football history? Do yourselves a favour -- stop being so paranoid.

The rest of the world is too busy concentrating on its own affairs to devote time to devising ways of getting at Kildare.

Traditionally, Kildare have been a very popular county, rightly regarded as one of the most loyal football strongholds.

The support base has always been solid, whether at an O'Byrne Cup game in St Conleth's Park in early January, a qualifier in Cavan or a big Croke Park event. Kildare supporters could lay justifiable claims on being the best in the country.

While provincial and All-Ireland glory have eluded the present squad, the quest goes on from an encouraging position as joint fifth favourites.

Kildare played championship football into August for each of the last four years and look well-placed to extend it to a fifth successive season over the coming weeks.

Contrast that with the previous four seasons, when their championship adventure only once reached mid-July (2007).

An inability to accelerate over the home stretch has been frustrating for them in recent seasons, but Cork and Dublin encountered similar problems before making the All-Ireland breakthrough.


Kildare remain a work-in-progress and only time will tell whether they develop into the finished article.

Meantime, as that exciting quest continues, the county could help itself by moving out of self-pity mode. Indeed, there's a danger that far from creating a siege mentality that will drive the team forward, an 'everybody is out to get us' approach could turn into a corrosive influence.

If players believe that the world is against them, it may well turn into an excuse if things go wrong.

The referee? Sure we never get a break. The venue? Didn't they send us to Portlaoise when we should have been in Newbridge?

The Seanie Johnston transfer? We told everybody: 'nothing to see here, move on' but they kept looking anyway.

The €300,000 advance payment from Croke Park? Just a small accounting adjustment. Why such interest?

If Kildare continue on their paranoid course, it can only damage them. They are not being targeted for special attention but, as with all counties, they are being scrutinised. And what high-yield territory they're proving!

Did Kildare expect that the Johnston transfer would sail serenely through procedural waters?

It would have been remiss of the GAA authorities, which represent every club and county in the country, not to test the application in rigorous detail.

In the end, the transfer was approved, perhaps not as quickly as Kildare would have liked, but that's life.

Much has been made in Kildare about alleged negativity in the media towards the Johnston transfer application.

I won't answer for others but I backed his application (devoting most of this column to supporting him on February 15), on the basis that, if Cavan didn't want him, he should be allowed switch elsewhere -- provided the supporting paperwork held up.

And since GAA rules don't clearly define what constitutes permanent residency, how can they be used to decide what doesn't?

Kildare's PR handling of the Johnston saga was a disaster, right up to clearing his eligibility with a hurling game.

If Kildare played more club championship football during the summer, there would have been no need for that trick-acting.

The media were also accused of over-hyping the €300,000 advance payment from Croke Park in April, not to mention the appointment of an outsider to keep an eye on the books.

If there wasn't a financial problem in Kildare, why pay them in advance? And why not trust them to look after their own affairs?

And so to Kildare's loss of home venue for Saturday's qualifier tie with Limerick. It happened because St Conleth's Park's 8,000-capacity is deemed insufficient for such a big game.

So what was the solution? Go all-ticket and disappoint some Kildare and Limerick supporters, or relocate to Portlaoise, scarcely a massive drive for Lilywhite fans?

While it's easy to query the fixture-makers and even allege that there are ulterior motives for the switch, the more appropriate question is this: why has such a big GAA county as Kildare a low-capacity, outdated main ground.

How come that the likes of Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny and Wexford have managed to modernise their county whereas Kildare failed?

That's hardly the fault of transfer-regulators, fixture-makers or the media. Yes, we know about the grand ambitions to move out of St Conleth's Park, but was there no plan B?

Kildare is a great GAA zone but it needs to get back to basics. It has a fine football team but as a county, it appears to have lost its sense of belonging.

Folks, the rest of the world is not out to get you. Unless, of course, you want to be got at, which at times appears entirely possible.

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